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Samurai Warriors 5 interview: Getting back to where it all started

Shacknews speaks to Koei Tecmo President and COO Hisashi Koinuma to learn about the upcoming Samurai Warriors 5.


Fans of the Samurai Warriors series may have been wondering where the long-running Musou series could go following its last game. After a well-received trilogy and a fourth installment that seemed to close the book on the overarching story, Koei Tecmo surprised fans with the announcement of a fifth game. Samurai Warriors 5 will go back to the franchise's roots in a way, revisiting the Sengoku period and reimagining many of the events of the original game.

To learn more about what fans can expect from Samurai Warriors 5, Shacknews reached out to Hisashi Koinuma. He's the President and COO of Koei Tecmo and is also working as a producer for the game. He talked about the Samurai Warriors series as a whole, some of the major changes being introduced for Samurai Warriors 5, and what the next generation of consoles potentially means for the series moving forward.

Shacknews: We've heard that Samurai Warriors 5 is supposed to be a "fresh re-imagining" for the long-running series. Can you talk about some of the changes being made to the gameplay and why you made the decision to make them?

Hisashi Koinuma, Koei Tecmo President and COO: We rewrote the story from the first Samurai Warriors and revamped the story, characters, art style and action system this time around. Seven years have passed since the release of Samurai Warriors 4, with multiple pauses in the development of Samurai Warriors 5 along the way.

Broadly speaking, the first three games in the series are based on the beginning, middle and latter part of the Sengoku period. After that we have Samurai Warriors 4 which was developed as a compilation of sorts, with the concept of it being a type of "festival" for the series. As such, this was a finale for the series so we had to think of what we were going to do for Samurai Warriors 5. This was one of the main points that we had to consider. It took a lot of time for us to figure out how we wanted to create a game that players would really enjoy and we put a lot of effort into figuring this out.

As every entry in the Samurai Warriors series is also part of the Warriors series, the exhilarating action of each title is very well received, but the story is also a popular aspect as well. We want to focus on this aspect and go back to the first Samurai Warriors title and reimagine the world, and in doing so rewrite the beginning of the Sengoku period. This was the answer we arrived at when coming up with the concept for this entry in the series.

Shacknews: The art direction seems to have more of a cel-shaded motif to it than in previous games, is this part of the re-imagining or something that just comes with time?

Koinuma: We went for an original visual style for this title to ensure it looked like an illustration, rather than just simply utilizing cel shading. The theme this time around is a rewritten version of the first Samurai Warriors, and the visual style is meant to more thoroughly showcase the Japanese art influences that we weren't able to implement at the time the original game was released, by utilizing the latest technology.

Shacknews: What can you tell us about the new Ultimate Skills? What do they add to the experience and can you give some examples of some that players will see?

Koinuma: Ultimate Skills can be used to cancel an action, allowing for it to be tied into a combo, and resulting in an exhilarating way to battle your foes. It also gives players the ability to effectively defeat enemies that utilize guns or shields. While most Ultimate Skills are used as attacks, there are some that can buff your status, create clones of your character and many other different types of effects.

Shacknews: Beyond the new Ultimate Skills are there any other dramatic changes to gameplay or will fans of the Musou genre feel right at home playing Samurai Warriors 5?

Koinuma: While there are some aspects that will be similar to other entries in the series, the story, characters, art style, action systems and many other elements have been revamped for Samurai Warriors 5.

Shacknews: What made you want to focus on the Sengoku period for this story? Were there any other settings considered before the team decided on the Sengoku period?

Koinuma: The first Samurai Warriors naturally came about as the Dynasty Warriors series was very well received and we wanted to have a title that focused on Japanese history, specifically the Sengoku period, in the same way that we have both Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunga's Ambition. However, we decided on what kind of story we wanted to implement and what characters we wanted to include through a process of trial and error.

Shacknews: Can you describe how you went about redesigning each character to fit the aesthetic of the Sengoku period?

Koinuma: We made sure to use armor and decorations that were used at the time, and referenced traditional Japanese designs so that they would all look right at home if found in the Sengoku period.

Shacknews: Out of the game's 27 characters, some of them will be returning from previous games. How did you determine which characters to bring back?

Koinuma: We chose the characters based on which we felt would be vital to make an appearance in the story.

As we chose that Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi would be the main characters in this installment, we selected characters that would be appropriate to be active in their stories.

Shacknews: What is the process in designing a Hyper Attack? What are the design goals and how does the team go about implementing them?

Koinuma: We design all actions, including the weapon switching system and fan favorite Hyper Attacks, by going through a process of trial and error in order to create actions that will give the player more options to customize their experience and also bring out the uniqueness of each character.

Shacknews: We know that Samurai Warriors 5 is set to launch on multiple platforms, but the trailer was first shown off during a Nintendo Direct livestream event. Will the Switch version of the game have any unique features like Amiibo compatibility?

Koinuma: There isn't any Switch specific content included, but we are working to ensure the visuals will look great on Switch as well.

Shacknews: Lastly, what does the new hardware from PlayStation and Xbox potentially open up for Koei Tecmo's Musou games in the future? Are there any new settings you're considering for future Warriors installments? Could we perhaps see something like a Dynasty Warriors or maybe a Dynasty Warriors Gundam game get a similar treatment in the future?

Koinuma: While I don't think there are many elements that would be impossible without the latest generation of hardware, I think some elements of Warriors titles like the number of characters and enemies displayed on screen, AI, and large stages would all be improved by utilizing next generation hardware.

Samurai Warriors 5 is just months away from release. Look for it to come to Nintendo Switch, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, this summer.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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